As an entrepreneur, you can either pay yourself or your business first. The lines are often blurred. Many business owners work at home, drive around and take calls on the road. How many of those expenses we categorize as personal are actually business expenses? A lot of them.
I see many business owners make mistakes of buying lavish homes and expensive cars. Much of this stuff is often bought on credit. Anything bought on credit is not truly an asset unless it has appreciated in value or you have paid enough down fast enough to where it has some liquidity if sold.
It often makes sense to buy your house on credit if you have a family, but you should not be overzealous. A car that costs $2,000 and one that costs $200,000 both serve the same purpose: to get your from point A to B. The only reason to get a nicer car is if you have some sort of brand to live up to.
For example, many people would not trust a lawyer that pulls up in Saul Goodman’s yellow beater. A lawyer should have a car that represents them well. Still, you don’t need to spent a shit ton of money to gain respect. Your product and service should do the talking.
The Beginning of Your Company & During Hard Times
If at all possible, you should work for free and reinvest back into your company both during hard times and especially at the beginning. The more money you put back into quality employees, contractors, marketing and product development, the bigger your company will be in the long term.
Many new business owners will take money from their company at the first hint of profit and positive cash flow. This is a big mistake. You should reward yourself for your hard work but it needs to be strategic. The more you can feed and diversify your investments, the better things will be when your company hits inevitable downturn. You should always hedge any investment, especially those that aren’t that liquid.
Think about what you really need – food, somewhere to live and good people. I’m not asking you to be a minimalist, instead be strategic with your expenses and how you pay yourself. Its better to take a small side job such as Uber or Lyft than to rob your business of all its cash as soon as it comes in.
I highly recommend you watch the below video “How The Economic Machine Works” and order the book Principles by Ray Dalio.
Occasionally I will write posts around my birthday reflecting on all the things I’ve learned. I haven’t done a post like this in about 4 years. This one feels like it should have zombies involved, but i haven’t ran into any! I’ve learned a lot in 4 years but i will condense it for you in a few points. These posts are mainly for me to look back at but i hope you take something from them as well.
My employees just got me this cake. I’m pretty carbed up at the moment. Me and sugar aren’t the best of friends… prepare for some fuck ups below 🙂
The Most Important Thing in Life Is People
Seems pretty obvious, right? It is very easy to forget in a world with endless information coming at us. So much information we have to categorize some of it as fake. Everywhere you go there are people with their heads down looking at the screen of their choice. Ignoring the people around them, they dive into their own little personal worlds.
No piece of technology can compete with the energy and warmth of a human being. We are not living in an episode of the Black Mirror (yet). Pay attention to the people around you. Love them. They will not be around forever and neither will you.
This has been especially hard for me. My entire life has advanced as far as it has because of the screen i sit behind. It has never been easier to avoid people.
Getting close with people scares the shit out of most of us. It is important though. If you are lucky enough, you will find someone that can point out your flaws and call you on your bullshit. This doesn’t mean to turn into a weak little bitch. It means to improve yourself and keep growing.
The Second Most Important Thing is Your Purpose
What do you want accomplish in this life? Why do you even get up in the morning? Chances are you are either living someone else’s dream or your own. Are you conscious of it? What is your life plan? Can you contribute where you are at?
There is heavy research that says happiness comes from a sense of control over your own life. The less control you have, the less happy you are.
Most people never realize they can create any life they want. Maybe they had some excitement, then forgot. I recently went through the future authoring program. It is the best $15 you can spend. Makes you answer important questions you are constantly too distracted to think about.
Having a strong purpose instantly puts you ahead of others that do not. Don’t over complicate this. Your purpose is literally just that – the reason you exist.
Never Go Half In
I made this mistake in my last relationship and in some companies in which i still own. I wrote previously about investing with time vs investing with money. This is an important distinction that i still continue to learn (and suffer from).
When you make a decision you either need to say no or go all in. There is no middle ground. It doesn’t mean you need to work yourself to death in business or be a try hard person in a relationship. It just means that you made this decision and now you are not going to run away from it. You are going to put your talents on the line.
My generation runs away from everything. A bunch of pussies. An excuse is that we have more decisions to make because of all the information coming at us. It is a poor excuse. People are half in everything these days. Half in relationships. Half in school. Half in work. Completely detached.
I’ve had to chip away at this part of myself to slowly kill it. My enthusiasm for new people, things and ideas sometimes gets the best of me. When I hit 30 in two years there will be no “half ins”. They will all be weeded out.
Car Accidents are a Bitch
On September 2, 2015 i was in a car accident with my girlfriend at the time. It was a bad one. Fucked me mentally for a while. It took a few weeks for me to realize how bad it was. Instead of going to in-depth about it here, i will have a separate post talking about it in the future. In short – don’t work out after your doctor says you had a concussion (and it is confirmed by a brain MRI).
Russia is a Nice Place with Nice People
I went to Moscow last year. Despite what you have heard, these people are great. We met some people born and raised in Moscow. They told us how much they loved the States. They were not people trying to escape Russia either. They loved Putin. It blows peoples mind that a Russian person could love the USA while equally loving Russia. It is because too often Russia and the Russian people are made out to be villains by the US.
When I told my parents I was going to Russia they were not thrilled. I was not scared per say. I did get my affairs in order though. I set up my Living Trust, will and multiple life insurance policies. On the plane to Poland I remember thinking, why the fuck did I do all that? After the accident, i started to over think a lot of things. Will go over this in a future post.
Passion is Not a Long Term Strategy
At the beginning of anything, its exciting. Whether its a new relationship or new business, there is a lot of passion. It doesn’t last. How do you keep things going?
For relationships, I can not answer the question. All I can tell you is that if your relationship is based only on passion and you plan on it lasting, you are fucked. Both literally and figuratively fucked. Getting fucked at the beginning will be the best fucking of your life but getting fucked after the passion is gone just might be the worst fucking of your life.
That was a rough sentence. Sorry to put you through that. Hopefully in my 30s i have a more conclusive answer for you.
When it comes to business, i somewhat have the answer. You need to bounce around to different projects to stay engaged. After one big one is done, you move to the next one. Problem solving within a business can be incredibly rewarding. Not just financially, but to your self esteem.
If You Have Even Half the Mental Strength as Your Grandparents Had…
I’ll let you finish that sentence however you want 🙂
After traveling to Europe three times, I am compelled to write this. Haven’t booked your trip to Europe yet? This guide will help you get over the hump. Need activity ideas? Yep, I’ll cover that too. Most importantly, I will fill you in with the most important part of traveling. Hint: It sure as hell is not sightseeing.
Where have I Traveled to in Europe?
Spain, France, Netherlands, Italy, Greece (mainland and islands), Russia, Sweden, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Germany. I’m going a 4th round in 2017.
Where to Start
If your flight/trip is already booked, you can skip this section. It is meant as more of a push, more than anything else (for those of you who are hesitating).
Book the Flight
If you haven’t booked the flight yet, do it. Waiting on friends to go with you? Bad excuse. You can lead the way. If they don’t end up coming, this guide will make sure you have an amazing time either way. Every time I travel many of my friends are “definitely going.” At the end of the day it’s usually only one or two friends that end up actually going. This waiting on other people thing will ensure that you will be dead before you do any traveling. So, please, don’t do it! Just book the flight.
Do you need Visas?
As a US citizen, there are only a few places I know of in Europe which you will need a visa. The big one is Russia. There is also Belarus. You can stay updated on Visa requirements here.
When traveling to Russia, we used the It’s Easy Passport & Visa service. The process was very simple and we had no issues when arriving or departing Moscow. There are other websites that offer similar services.
You can also do this process yourself. I wouldn’t recommend this for first time travelers that need a visa, unless you know someone who can help you.
Traveling is About People First, Sightseeing Second
Traveling is about meeting new people and being submerged into different cultures. It’s not about seeing the Eiffel Tower or the Coliseum. If you don’t get lost once or twice and have to ask a local where the hell you are, you’re probably doing it wrong!
All jokes aside, the people you meet during your trip to Europe will undoubtedly be the thing you remember most. I will tell you one thing. You aren’t going to meet these people by staying in fancy hotels or private AirBnB’s. You are going to have to venture into the land of hostels.
When Americans think of hostels, they think of a horror movie. Most wouldn’t be caught dead at a hostel because these people have their head so far up their ass. Let me tell you: some of the best times of my life happened at hostels. Staying at a hostel will force you to run into people from all over the world.
How to Book a Good Hostel
Just like there are bad hotels, there are bad hostels. Luckily, we have this thing called the Internet to filter through the bullshit and ensure we have the best hostel experience possible. Use Hostel World to research and book the best hostels. The site is great because you can book right through it and filter through any specific facilities that you might need.
The best hostel I have stayed at is the Flying Pig (Downtown) in Amsterdam. Hands down.
If for some reason, you cannot wrap your head around staying in a Hostel and still want to have a great time, I have a little hack for you. It’s called a pub crawl. Most cities in Europe have them and they are a great way to meet both locals and other travelers from around the world.
What is a Pub Crawl?
A pub crawl is this amazing invention that leads you to 4-5 local bars/nightclubs. You get free drinks and meet some wonderful people from around the world. All for the very high price of $20. Many times, they throw in a t-shirt as well. This happened to us both in Rome and in Amsterdam.
I’m not big on drinking. I think it’s fucking stupid. I will say though, there is nothing quite like drinking with people from other countries. Hopefully, Heaven is filled with this many laughs.
Pub Crawl Tips
- Get to know the pub crawl leaders: These people are organizing the whole thing for you and they can teach you a lot about the culture of wherever you are, whether it’s Moscow or Barcelona.
- Break the ice: Just start talking to people. Even if you don’t speak their language. You will learn something.
- Pace yourself: You’re headed for a long night. Often times the night never ends after the pub crawl hits its last bar or club.
Above, I have mentioned two ways to meet locals. Hostel workers and pub crawl leaders are both great opportunities to hang with the locals.
Some other ways are to simply strike up a conversation with a worker wherever you are. The bartender, supermarket worker, attend a meetup group, etc.
Travel with a Friend
It’s always better to travel with a friend. This, of course, is assuming the person can take care of themselves. There is nothing worse than traveling with other people who need you by their side all the time.
Plan Around Festivals
Music and cultural festivals are a great way to meet people and adapt to cultures. There are festivals that are local and mostly locals attend. There are also festivals that have national appeal. Many of these are music festivals. So far, I have only been to festivals that have national appeal. Music festivals allow you to connect with people from around the world with the one thing that could actually produce those kinds of results: Music. Everyone speaks music. Below is a little bit about the two festivals I have been to, in case you would like to check them out.
In 2016 I camped at Sziget. Sziget is held yearly in Budapest. It takes place on an island dubbed: “The Island of Freedom.” It was an awesome experience. If you’re looking for a good shower and everything to be perfect, this is not the place. Find a hotel. This is all about immersing yourself around people from hundreds of countries. The music stages will play sounds you have never heard. You might find yourself dancing around to German rap songs or striking up a conversation with one of the Hungarian workers. This one is a must go. Plan around it. More info here: http://szigetfestival.com
In 2014 I attended Rock Werchter. This is a rock festival outside of Brussels, Belgium. Seeing Metallica in a field in the middle of nowhere was something I will never forget. Rock Werchter has expanded beyond Rock music and features some EDM. For example, Skrillex was performing while I was there. It looks like in 2017 they are having the Chainsmokers. The festival is still majority Rock and you will have a blast. Be prepared to drink a lot of Jupiler beer. Check out Rock Werchter here: http://www.rockwerchter.be/en
How to Get Around – Trains, Planes & Uber!
Getting around in Europe is not as hard as it might seem.
Trains in Europe
First, I have to get something out of the way…. Many tourist pay a premium for a rail pass. It is completely unnecessary. The only way I would recommend to book trains is through the local train websites within that country. How do you find those? It is not as hard as it might seem. Simply call the hostel or hotel where you are staying and ask them. They will immediately know. In Poland, for example, we were directed to https://www.intercity.pl/en/. It took a minute to figure out, but it’s much cheaper to book what you need than spend a shit ton of money for some pass. Many travelers we met didn’t buy their ticket until the day of or night before. Simply put, do your homework before you spend a ton of money.
Now that you know the truth about those “passes,” train travel is definitely the way to go in Europe. Traveling by train can be a fun experience. Many of the long-distance trains have a bar/food. It is a great way to meet people. It is also a wonderful way to see the countryside.
Most of the bus transits will be from an airport to a major city. Many times, this is the most convenient way if a rail/train option does not exist. For example, in Spain I paid 2 Euro for an hour trip from the Airport to Barcelona.
Once you shell out the money for your initial flight to Europe, you will be happy to know that the fares get much cheaper from within Europe. We used comparison-travel sites like Orbitz to compare rates and easily book these flights within Europe.
Uber / Lyft – Check Ahead of Time
It is surprising how many places have Uber. I didn’t think Moscow, Russia would have Uber; yet they do. It worked wonderfully from transporting from the airport to the city. However, it’s important to check ahead of time if these places have a ride-sharing option like Lyft or Uber. If they don’t, you will have to go with a taxi, shuttle or other option.
Taxi… if You Have To
If there is no other option, take a taxi. It should be your last resort because a taxi is less safe and less transparent. In Uber, you can type in your exact address and see as you move along on the map. In a taxi, you are verbally telling someone and hoping they understand. This is especially hard when you do not speak their native tongue. Use taxi as a last resort.
The best part about Europe is walking around (and taunting everyone back home with my Fitbit steps). We decided to walk around the first day in Moscow and 26 miles later, we had covered a lot of ground. It was way better than driving as it allowed us to see how locals live and pass by things we might have missed if we had taken an Uber.
Some of my best memories in Europe are walking around.
Don’t Rent a Car
I would not recommend renting a car in Europe. Some places it may be ok; but in general, it’s a bad idea. It will put a lot of extra baggage on your travel. You can get almost anywhere by rail. If not, you can take an Uber. If your goal is to see only the countryside and stay away from the city, maybe a rental will work out better.
I have heard stories from other travelers that if an accident happens, many times the police will take the side of the locals. This is simply because they cannot understand your point of view. We thought strongly about renting a car the first Euro trip and decided against it. Not driving for 42 days takes a lot of stress off. It also makes driving fun again when you return home!
Things Will Go Wrong, Stay Calm
When you travel, shit will hit the fan. Sparks will fly. It is important that you and anyone you are traveling with stay calm. Google maps will fail you. You might end up using hand signals to try to explain things to locals. It is ok, this is all part of the experience.
One of the most memorable/scary moments I had was in Belgium. We had everything mapped out for our train ride to the South Brussels airport. We bought the ticket and barely made it onto the train. Literally, slipped in and then boom. Doors closed. When we got off at the “airport stop,” there was no airport in site. It looks like a town straight out of the walking dead. Complete silence. Looked like no one even lived in the town. I was freaking out a little bit, then came to my senses. The train station was so abandoned that it was flooded at the bottom, so we had to go across the tracks to get to the other side. Our flight was in an hour.
We just decided to start walking. Eventually we came up on what looked like a gas station. My friend went in while I watched all of our luggage. The guy initially said he was going to call us a taxi. Then he decided to close down his gas station and drive us to the airport. My friend said, “What do you think? Kinda sketchy?” I said, “There are two of us and one of him. It will be fine.” Turns out, our drive with Manuel was more than fine. We all bonded over TV shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. We were using our translator app to communicate through broken English. He was cracking jokes that we somehow understood. When we finally arrived at the airport, we tried to pay Manuel 50 Euro. He declined. He would not take any payment. He was just excited to see someone different. It turns out that the town we were dropped off in is basically an abandoned mining town. Everyone lost their jobs a few years back. According to Manuel, it was depressing to live there.
Once you have traveled enough, all souvenirs start to look the same. The shot glass with the city. The fancy pen. The bottle opener. The list goes on.
If you really want a meaningful souvenir, then try to find a local craftsman that has a small shop. Some of these people might even sell their stuff on the street. I got a beautiful carved cat for my girlfriend while in Poland, for example.
Postcards are sometimes overlooked as just another souvenir. A postcard with a thoughtful message on it can go a long way though. For those of you who can’t find anything else, send a postcard!
What Should You Pack?
Bring at least 10 pairs of underwear. 10 pairs of socks. 5 shirts. 2 pairs of jeans. 1 or 2 swim suits.
You will be able to find laundry services along the way. If you are looking, simply search CITY NAME + Laundry Service, in Google. You will be sure to find something. Check with your hostel, hotel, or Airbnb as well.
I have overpacked in the past and find that I normally use only 30% of what I bring. It is sad when you realize you have all this extra shit you must carry around the rest of the trip! Focus on the important stuff.
Specific Recommendations in Europe
Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Krakow, Poland)
Ann Frank House (Amsterdam)
Red Square (Moscow)
Lenin’s Tomb (Moscow)
Honestly, I’ve met people along the way that are younger than I am and have traveled longer and lighter than I have. These people are amazing and I envy them. Most people were from the UK, Australia, or within Europe.
It is my hope that this post helps a few of you out there to close the deal on your Euro trip and make your dream a reality. It will surely end up differently than how you imagine it. Just remember: Traveling is about people. The characters you will meet. In some cases, these people will become lifelong friends.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and you should check with him/her before trying any supplements. I am merely a supplement fanboy looking for an edge anywhere I can get it in life. When I find cool stuff, I like to tell people about it 🙂
First off I must just tell you that this stuff makes me feel absolutely amazing. I have been taking this every day for the last 5 days. Originally, I was just going to take it after a cheat day in an effort to put myself back into ketosis, but I decided that it made me feel so good that I would do a longer run and post my experience here.
What is Kegenix?
Kegenix is a top of the line exogenous ketone supplement using a formula developed by Dr. Dominic D’Agostino (http://www.ketonutrition.org) and other PhD’s at the University of South Florida. Dom is not associated with the company Kegenix, but they benefit from his research. Dom recently said on the Tim Ferris podcast that he had nothing but good experiences while taking Kegenix (Listen here – 1:29:40: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2016/07/06/dom-dagostino-part-2/).
Is this the same as putting myself into Ketosis?
Although Kegenix and most other exogenous ketone supplements will put you into ketosis, it is not the same as your body producing ketones and there is so far no research proving that it will help you lose weight.
If you are doing a low-carb, keto style diet this supplement will give you important micro nutrients. Those micros are Potassium, Sodium and Magnesium. Your body needs these 3 nutrients much more when you are in ketosis. Learn more about keto flu here.
Can I use Kegenix after cheat days?
This is how I first started using Kegenix and how I will continue to use it after this 5 day trial. Although I do not have evidence, I do believe it speeds up the time it would normally take my body to get back into ketosis and producing its own ketones. This is pending of your diet of course. For example, after a carb binger on a Friday / Saturday, the next day i would feel intense cravings. With Kegenix the cravings do not exist. It is kind of an odd experience because your mind is thinking “hey, shouldn’t we be hungry?”. There is no urge for me. Again, this is likely case by case. I am very used to eating a Keto diet.
Can I Take this and Eat Whatever I Want?
Although Kegenix sort-of advertises this, I don’t believe you should do it. It just depends where you are at with your weight goals and how you plan to use Kegenix. If you are using this to lose weight, I would follow a strict ketogenic diet along with it.
If you already have a great metabolism and are using this more as a pre-workout or cognitive booster than you can probably be a little bit more lenient with your diet. It is really a case by case basis.
Kegenix & Cognitive Excellence
One of the most important takeaways from my 5 day experience with Kegenix was just how powerful the cognitive effect is. Basically, it makes your brain feel great. I was a little skeptical at first because I saw one of the ingredients was green tea extract but nowhere did it disclaim how much caffeine was in the supplement. What if they put a bunch of caffeine in this and that is why it makes me feel good?
After contacting Kegenix I found out that the caffeine content from the green tea extract was a mere 75mg. I should have realized the energy I was feeling wasn’t from caffeine because there was no crash. Kegenix consistently produces about 6-8 hours of clean energy. There is a lot of research on how good ketones benefit your brain. I’ll put some resources below.
One of the downsides to this supplement is how expensive it is. As of now you can buy Kegenix online for $147. In time I believe the price of all ketone supplements will go down and be widely accessible.
Great Resources on Ketosis / Exogenous Ketones
The more successful you get, the more the people around you want something from you. Some of these people may have good intentions. It is important to be able to properly filter through the “opportunities” these people throw at you. At the end of the day you can only do so much. There is only so much time in a day. You really need to pick your battles.
Be Selective & Not Too Opportunistic
In my early 20s, i was extremely opportunistic and most people will tell you that i still am. There is one thing that changed about me though – Now i am extremely selective and ask the hard questions before i just jump into a new venture or project. I treat my time like a good investor treats their money – Every dollar counts. I am also no longer afraid to leave a venture or kill a part of it, if i believe it is on the wrong track. I am no longer blind to continually re-upping on a bad investment.
As an entrepreneur, it is very easy to find yourself in a predicament where you have too much going on. You start to ask questions like – “How the fuck did this happen? I had one thing, it got a bit of success and now i am involved in 7 things.”
At age 19 i was working 18 hours a day on one single business with a very straightforward product line. All day i would focus on marketing, selling and fulfilling that single product line to the point where we began to dominate the industry and to this day still dominate it. Then after a while me and my partner decided to split that single focused company into 2, because of branding issues. It was the right call but things began to get harder. I felt like a mini Elon Musk. I was dealing with 2 companies now. One company was still fairly simple but the other one was a beast that needed to be tamed and simplified.
More Is Not Always Better
Its very simplistic to think that the more companies you have the better off you will be. Most of us are building these organizations from the ground up, with no investor(s). After all, adding investors to the mix just makes things more of a pain in the ass anyway. Better to have full control.
If you are building anything from the ground up, it takes time. Time is more valuable than money because you can never get it back. Money is a renewable resource and there are plenty of ways to get it back if you lose it.
Before you enter into any new venture you should ask yourself these 2 questions:
- How much time / money will i be spending on this new venture?
- What will be my role in this new venture?
If you already have too much going on, be honest about how much you can contribute to this new venture. Most of the time you must say no. Sometimes you will be in a position to say yes.
Investing with Money vs Investing with Time
There are two ways to invest in a business.. Money and Time.
Investing with Time
An example of investing with time is where you are primarily doing all the heavy lifting of the business. You can not become very successful without an initial extreme investment of time. Even if you have money, you will have time take the time to learn an industry inside and out to delegate the tasks. One does not need to be passionate about something to spend time on it but it REALLY HELPS.
This is why you need to ask yourself those 2 vital questions above. You can not jump from one company you are already spending a lot of time in to another one which requires even more time. Your time ends up getting divided.
Tips for Investing with your Time:
- Know your industry inside and out.
- Know your top competitors inside and out.
- Work as much as you possibly can, the more time you spend working the faster your company will grow.
- Eliminate distractions, only be focusing on this one business.
- When you begin to make a little money, re-invest it back into the business.. not another company.
- As you keep re-investing money back in your business, find ways to delegate tasks by either hiring employees, developing software or hiring contractors. Do not half ass this. Anyone will take your money!
Investing with Money
Investing with money means most tasks will be handled by another partner or contractor. You may have heard of the saying “Success Breeds Success”. Its true. Once you spend the time to get one business successful you can either choose to spend time or money to get the next one successful, depending on how much you have of each. At this point you will know more about business as well, you will be sharper and better prepared.
Tips for Investing with Money:
- Know your industry inside and out
- Know your top competitors inside and out
- Make sure your partners / contractors are 100% time invested in making the company grow. After all, you will be funding it.
- Have a simple dashboard to measure the success of the business. You shouldn’t have to put time into this, should happen automatically.
- You need to know the industry because you may have to jump in and put time in to fix things if it becomes available.
So please, never ever ever forget those two questions i wrote earlier (put them below again).
- How much time /money will i be spending on this new venture?
- What will be my role in this new venture?
If you choose to ignore the simple questions, you might find yourself in a position where your success is leaking uncontrollably to every damn thing you decided to jump in to. Of course, you have to be wary of material possessions too 🙂
If you are reading this, you already know what you need to do and you already know exactly how to do it. You are simply here trying to be more organized, but the answer is not organization.
The real answer to overcoming information overload is to gain clarity and take small actions over time. I’ll go over this in detail below, but first…
Most people have no idea why the fuck they are doing what they are doing. Plenty of what they are doing is a form of escapism or mental masturbation. In the 21st century it is nearly impossible to sit with our own thoughts. We might have a fucking panic attack or die if we have to listen to that voice inside our very complex brain.
So what do we do? We watch YouTube videos. We are on Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest, (fill in your mental fuck-toy here). We look for someone or some company to give our hard earned money to without ever considering that they might not fucking deserve it. We are swarmed with people trying to sell us online courses that promise to get us ahead. We download that new to-do list app, this will fix all of our problems!
There is no simplicity anymore, is there? Our brains were not made for all the stimulation we have instant access to.
What is Information Overload?
Every 60 seconds 72+ Hours of YouTube video is uploaded, millions of words published and 2.4 million queries are typed into Google. This is really just the tip of the iceberg because it is not slowing down. I could make facts like this the centerpiece of this entire blog, but this would get us know where.
With all this information, how are we supposed to filter through it to find actionable takeaways and get things done?
It is easier than you think, but first you need to prepare with the following 2 actions:
Turn off your phone while you’re trying to get a specific thing done
Your phone is not a productivity tool and it is laced with endless loops of notifications that send dopamine hits to your brain. It might even make you feel like you are getting something done. After all, billions of dollars are spent making sure you are addicted to using your phone and the apps within it. There is a time for your phone but it is not when you are trying to get things done.
Eliminate All Distractions
If you are trying to eat healthier or stop drinking alcohol one of the first pieces of advice is to change your environment. They tell you to throw out all junk food and alcohol you have in your house. Some of the most distracting things are not food or gadgets, they are people.
You cannot throw away people, but you can set boundaries.
What distractions are eating at you? Here are some common ones distractions and solutions.
This includes the people closest to you. People like your wife, parents, employees, etc.
Solution: Turn off your phone and let people know you will only be able to talk at certain times and when you are done with what needs to be done. Be sure to say this in a nice way so it is not taken wrong. If you do not tell people your dilemma soon, you will eventually blow up on them and that never feels good for anyone involved.
Your Phone Notifications Going Off
There is so much shit on our smart phone. It seems we cannot escape it. Let’s see.. email, facebook, snapchat, Instagram, yelp, text messages, etc.. All these are competing for your attention and are made to be addicting (read Hooked) and you are somehow supposed to get things done. Yea, right.
Solution: I put my phone on airplane mode or turn it off when I am doing anything important, including spending time with friends and family. With some apps I am extremely annoyed by, I kill the notifications completely so I can open them at my convenience.
If you are in an office environment, you know how fucking horrible this can be. You are ZONED IN, getting stuff done and then you have to go-to a meeting. Most of the time, it’s a complete waste of time.
Solution: Tell your manager that you have some very important work to get done that will grow the company and you cannot be bothered with meeting. If you say this nicely, your boss will understand.
Social Media Websites
If you’re like most of us you constantly open a new tab with your favorite website, whether it is social or news based. Sure, it’s nice to take a break every so often but this can take you out of the zone and derail your entire day.
Solution: Focus on the task at hand by removing all tabs or programs that are not essential to what you are doing. You can also try a tool like one tab (https://www.one-tab.com) which consolidate all those distracting tabs.
You know what it is and how bad it is fucking you over. So much information is sent to us on a day to day basis, pulling us everywhere except where we need to go.
Solution: Close it. SHUT IT DOWN!!
People Walking All Over Your Time
Have you ever been completely focused on something, making massive progress and then someone just walks in and wants to “talk” or “bullshit”.
Solution: Don’t allow it. All it will take is setting a boundary one time and you will never have to worry about this again.
How to Kill Information Overload
Step #1: Gain Clarity on Your End Goal
The reason a lot of people feel trapped by the information that is all around them is because they have no clarity on what they are trying to accomplish. I know you are probably sitting there and saying, “I know what I want!!”. Do you really?
If you really know what you want than you are likely using information as a form of escapism from taking action, which we will talk about below. Before that, you should really check your goals at the door and see if they are your goals or the goals of someone else. Learn more on how to set goals here.
Step #2: Take Small Actions Over Time
Most people get stuck on the information treadmill, meaning they feel like they are making progress but they actually are not moving anywhere at all. Taking action can be hard and your brain will try to avoid it at all cost.
Why take small actions? Because overcoming information overload is all about momentum through action. Here’s an example:
Goal: Start a Personal Training Website To Promote Yourself
Small Action 1: Buy the domain name “MikesFitnessTrainingSite.com”
Small Action 2: Google search “best website building platform”
Small Action 3: Sign up for website builder
Small Action 4: Add content and ask friends for testimonials
Small Action 5: Submit your site locally to google, yelp and other small business portals
Small Action 6: Ask your same friends to review you on yelp and google.
Small Action 7: Promote, promote, promote and tell people about it.
You get the idea. START and keep going. You will hit obstacles, as with all things. You don’t need to go back to school to solve them, turn to any search engine to look for people who had this problem before you. With proper action and a clear goal, you can do anything.
I’ve experimented and had some success with many habit tracking applications. One of my favorite over the years was Coach.me (use to be called Lift). I noticed that when using habit tracking apps there was potentially a problem in the way your mind molds habits for the long term. Follow me..
Note: this post is only about habit tracking applications, not other tracking applications – running, weight-lifting, etc.
The App Becomes the Reward in the Habit Loop
In the book the Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg breaks down the 3 part habit loop. This includes the Cue, the Routine and Reward. These three parts are different for every single habit, both good and bad, that become part of your daily life. Here is are two examples:
Cue: Boredom at work
Routine: Go surf the web for random funny videos
Reward: Satisfied and covering up your lack of productivity
Cue: Tired in the morning
Routine: Go and Buy a Coffee
If you wanted to change a habit you need to keep the reward the same while changing the routine. In the second example i could replace buying a coffee with taking a cold shower. This would create some level of alertness.
Now, lets say I add “cold shower” to my habit application. My habit no longer lives in my head, it lives in an application. It will be complete when i press the check-box. The check-box becomes the reward alongside alertness. This is a problem for 2 reasons.
- The habit lives in the app, not our brains.
- There are now for sure 2 rewards (the feeling of alertness AND checking the box) and potentially 2 cues (if you set a reminder)
Let’s start with the first problem:
If the habit is not 100% part of our brain internally, it is not our habit. In other words, if we can not do the habit without the application than it is not a habit. Forget the application piece for a minute.
Imagine every day of your life that someone had to tell you to take a cold shower and then gave you a cupcake after you were done. Imagine every single day of your life this happened. Problem is, someone is telling you to do the habit and someone is rewarding you with a cupcake. What happens when the person stops telling you to do it and doesn’t reward you? I know i’m not taking my cold shower without a cupcake!!
Jokes aside: For habits to work, they have to be YOURS and live in your brain. You must FEEL the reward INTERNALLY.
The second problem is now your habit loops look like this:
Cue: Tired in the morning
Cue 2: App reminds you to take a cold shower
Routine: You take a cold shower
Reward 2: Checking off your cold shower habit in the app.
The application becomes a habit in itself. This is the goal of most websites and applications so that you become addicted to using them. The problem is you only have so much dopamine and willpower. You really need to decide how you are going to be using it!
My advice to you:
If you are going to use a habit tracking app, only use it for 30 days. Use it as a habit on-boarding process with a commitment to stop using it. If you can, do not use an app at all. Store the habits in your brain instead! Haven’t you been looking at screens long enough anyway 🙂
Every year that goes by it seems like more and more bullshit is working against our body’s natural circadian rhythm. It is not just that we are busier or have more going on, but also that we have screens in our living rooms, on our laps, in our hands and now on our fucking wrists. We can not escape an endless stream of information that are brains have been (sort of) trained to keep checking for notifications. With each new notification we get a new dopamine spike. Not long after it becomes an addiction. A year or so ago, after reading the book Hooked & the Power of Habit, i realized how bad these little addictions were affecting my sleep. I turned to Dr. Google to help me find an answer.
There is the obvious stuff: turn off the TV, keep the phone outside the bedroom , get blackout shades.
This obvious stuff won’t do anything about your brain, which is unconsciously craving another dopamine spike while you lay there and get side tracked counting sheep to think about how fucked up it is that you forgot to brush your teeth. There are two things that have helped me greatly in the sleep department.
Specifically, i use MagTech about an hour before i go to bed. MagTech accurately dubs itself as ” Premium Blend of The 3 Most Powerful Forms of Magnesium”. These forms of Magnesium include Magnesium L-threonate (Magtein), Magnesium Taurate, Magnesium Glycinate.
Simply put, the stuff is absolutely amazing. If you think you are a tough guy or gal and don’t need magnesium, just listen to Dr. Liu who helped develop MagTein (Magnesium L-threonate):
Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea
I discovered Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea through Tim Ferris. After half of a cup, you feel slap happy. The effect is somewhat funny. You begin to talk slow and then crawl to your bed. Taking this with MagTech basically guarantees me a good nights sleep. The best part? I do not feel drowsy the next morning or have any trouble whatsoever getting up.
Until next time!
I don’t want to over simplify this but honestly this is the case. In business we say that there are certain “money making activities”. Well really, in life in general there are certain “value creating activities”.
Whoever gives the most value wins.
Now this doesn’t mean you will be happy, but you will feel accomplished. This is no different than the producer vs consumer paradigm. You are always either producing or consuming something. Whether that consumption is food, tv shows, youtube videos, etc. Here’s a list of value creating activities (activities that will allow you to give more value to your tribe and the world at large) and value destroying activities. We all do the latter, so don’t freak out next time you watch a movie as there can also be positive messages in some of the consumption. this list should help you identify the difference between the two and help you be give more value.
Value Creating Activities & The Why (Healthy Producing)
- Reading or listening to books that can give you more knowledge so you can give people the correct advise when needed and help people through tough times.
- Exercise so you can be strong and protect your tribe. This will also increase your sex life and overall attractiveness to mates.
- Meditating so you can be centered and focused while everyone else is over stimulated.
- Taking action in various areas of your life so you can get first hand experience which is by far the best way to learn.
- Creating and Publishing any type of content that can help people (audio, video, text, etc). This is not only a great release but has the power to really attract the right people to you and build something powerful.
- Making new friends that are unique and can have a special place in your life. If your life were a movie it would be boring if you were the only character. Your friends should be wide ranging and not destructive to your well being. A good supportive social circle is more powerful than any pill you could take.
- Self reflection and correction to take a look at your life in a non judgmental way and change things that really aren’t working in your favor.
- Having role models to look up to so you can always know what you want is possible.
- Sex, the ultimate act of any producer. It makes a baby folks. Think this one through.
Value Destroying Activities & The Why (Unhealthy Consuming)
- Watching any movie or tv show because it is someone else’s story and not your own. A numbing a effect occurs. Does not include documentaries.
- Taking in useless information that only exist to waste your time (news, pointless youtube videos, some reddit threads, websites, most fiction books).
- Eating any kind of processed food or sugary drinks consistently destroy your body slowly which makes you less capable to do give value to the world around you.
- Smoking, as it deteriorates your body which ruins your life – literally.
- Alcohol, as it deteriorates your brain and makes it less capable, especially in the long term.
- Any non-natural drugs (prescription drugs) will destroy your life. Sometimes they are necessary but it’s best to not get addicted as they will life altering effects on your neurology.
- Using social media for the wrong reasons can cause such a distraction that it will actually ruin your relationships, not enrich them. The most important thing is the people around you in the moment right now, not on a screen. Use with caution.
- Playing any fictional game on any devise that does not add to your actual life.
- Watching porn consistently (daily) destroys your dopamine receptors and could lead to enormous problems for both sexes, but particularly males.
- Buying stuff you actually do not need as it burns a hole through your wallet which makes you less likely to buy actual stuff you may need in the future.
Is it possible to use “Value Destroying Activities” to gain a Creative Edge?
Isn’t “value destroying activities” a bit harsh? Listen, i watch some great shows on TV and have seen some great movies. I love Inception so much i watched it 3 times in theaters. What the hell is my problem?!?
Every once in a while, these activities can help you create value and help you find comfort. But if you do any of them consistently they will kill you mentally and sometimes lead to death. Some people use substances like alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, etc. to temporarily gain a creative or mental edge. This is fine unless you are over doing it. You should be able to live day to day without any of this bullshit, but it won’t kill you if you do it in moderation.
Do you watch TV every day? Shitty content on the internet daily? Yes, it does have an effect on you. However small, it is still poison if you unhealthily consume anything, be it bad food or the news.
In every moment you are either creating your own story or living in someone else’s.
Running a company can be incredibly rewarding. Let’s be honest though, it is not some fairy tale. It’s incredibly hard and requires a lot of grind as well as constant out of the box thinking. In order to be successful, you have to want to do things that other people just aren’t willing to do. You have to create simple systems for extremely hard tasks.
In the case of Elon Musk, you have to sell people on the idea of living on Mars (SpaceX) or the vision of not using gas to fuel your automobile (TESLA). For some of us the visions are a little bit easier to sell and the path seems cleaner.
But the path is never clean. The journey of starting something worthwhile isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. It isn’t something you can do in 4 hours a week. You can get results, but you should not expect to create something that will enrich peoples lives by laying on a beach not working 300+ days out of the year.
Uptime and Downtime
When you are not eating glass (starting and running a business you hope to have massive success), you should take at least some downtime. If you have made a run in your business, maybe take a few weeks off. In the summer of 2014 I went to Europe for 6 weeks. It was a rewarding in many different ways that have nothing to do with business. If you aren’t having success, you do not deserve to reward yourself. Humans respond to either pleasure or pain. If you are rewarding yourself before you are successful or have made a good run it can cause massive problems in just about every area of your life. Have you ever trained a dog? Well, we work a lot like that – don’t give yourself any rewards unless you have done the trick!